Neither Stiles nor Derek are the main characters or the main love interest.
This really cracks me up in a way because people new to the show from tumblr are all, “I THOUGHT THEY WERE THE MAIN CHARACTERS, WTF”. And, really, lets take a moment to realize how rare this is? Because most of the biggest ships in ANY fandom usually revolve around at least one of the main characters, unless it’s an evenly distributed ensemble cast and even then it’s usually one of the ‘majors’ (ie. Buffy/someone, Tony/someone, Katara/someone, etc.).
Sterek? Not so much. Two ‘support’-type characters, an antagonist-foil/mentor and a protagonist-foil/mentor. Which means that they’re not ‘responsible’ for carrying the attention of the target and/or mainstream audience.
(Though to be honest, it could be argued that Teen Wolf’s target audience ISN’T mainstream if only for the fact that the current American youth generation is vastly more liberal than anything that came before, to the point that it can almost be labeled as an entire generation of ‘sub-culture’. Plus, the MTV audience in specific prides on pushing boundaries and being edgy and being groundbreaking; which is part of teen culture/mentality in general more than anything that, say, Bravo, can pull off with their audiences.
Which is not to say that stories with gay characters haven’t been done before, but rather that it’s always been Issue-based (ie. homophobia, coming out stories, what have you) rather than woven into the fabric of the story itself (ie. this is what an accepting world could look like, without falling into the trap of ‘race-blind’/’sexuality-blind’ where the ‘default’ is still ‘white’/’straight’).
Coming from film school, and (fuck it, I’ll say it out-loud) having worked in the industry, even though I’m doing documentary stuff right now, let’s just say that nothing is unintentional. Someone, multiple someones all up and down the workflow, have to know and agree on what is appearing on the screen. The one bottleneck where there’s less people with input is the editing sessions, where you go through takes and pick exactly which cut and bargain/debate/discuss with your director how exactly long two characters stare at each other or, say, to use the take where they can’t stop looking at each other’s mouths. There’s a bunch of people involved in the process before it reaches the editing room, production, actors, cameramen, what have you, and a bunch of people involved after, producer/studio approval, sound, coloring.
Perhaps the major points where something like Sterek becoming canon can be stopped is at (in order of workflow):
- the writing
- the acting
- the directing
- the cameramen/cinematographers
- the editing room (director, editor)
- the studio (producer, tv channel)
The actors are clearly on board (this ship, PUN INTENDED), the directors/cameramen are apparently on board (given what’s been filmed), the writer/producer and editors are apparently on board (given Jeff Davis’ tweets and the timing of the cuts in the end result that we see).
So basically the major roadblock is the studio, ie. MTV. Already known for pushing the envelope re: gay characters and reality tv personalities, already not having expected this show to last more than 2 seasons or for Teen Wolf to be very popular. They’ve already monetized freely available streaming episodes on their website and have the hard numbers to give to advertisers (plus whatever the Nielsen Ratings have been given them), and the numbers are good enough that they have expanded Teen Wolf to 24 episodes when renewing Season 3. This is MAJOR.
And Teen Wolf already HAS it’s main characters Scott and Allison (like a brilliant fusion of Romeo and Juliet and Hunger Games romance, tension, and character tropes) appeasing the mainstream audience.
So why not canon, eh? It’s not like QAF or Oz is still running, and say what you will but Teen Wolf is not really much like Glee. There’s an audience to tap who is more than willing to scream and throw money at merchandise and DVDs like those at a bachelorette party in a male strip joint.
To be honest, I’ve been buying DVDs of late instead of downloading to vote with my dollars, even if I’d already watched it streaming for free. A consequence of getting old with a lack of time and an excess of spending money due to a job. I have been waiting for something like this to be canon for ten years, and I know people who have been waiting longer, and I don’t even like merchandise but goddammit if Sterek becomes canon I will shell out for that shit.
Take my money MTV, I dare ya.
(Granted, this is also a request to progress the ship carefully. There is nothing more that I would like than for Stiles and Derek to come together in a way that has even straight guys rooting for them like they did with Beecher and Keller in Oz. I want even little old grannies to become convinced of their Awesome and weep with gross sobbing. I want every person that is convinced that homosexuality is gross to have a moment of, ‘Oh. I get it now’ that they wouldn’t have gotten before because they don’t watch QAF or don’t know anybody who is gay, but got sucked into Teen Wolf because they didn’t see it coming. And now they do.
Jeff Davis, I trust you to make it happen. Because you have already made this ridiculous, wonderful, unicorn of a show, so clearly you have more miracles up your sleeve.)
I’ve been thinking about Stiles and Derek again, about what my expectations are and what they should be. Whether I should prepare to be progressively more hopeful or progressively more bitter.
A lot of people have said that this is fanon slash and should stay that way. That we’re continuing the tradition of slash fandom by interpreting things the “wrong” way. And I wonder about this all the fucking time.
There are two times that I can remember that someone from the production side has made explicitly negatory statements about Stiles and Derek as a romance. One was Jeff himself, in a tweet regarding episode 2x04 - saying that a kiss between them would have to remain in the realm of fanfiction. This was also the tweet that sparked the followup of him saying he could be convinced. The other instance I remember is Tyler Hoechlin commenting that there wasn’t a love connection in a MTV video interview that was later edited out.
Neither of those instances are proof of future plans - both, in fact, refer to things that had already happened on the show at the time. And show runners like Jeff will obfuscate and even flat out lie when it comes to future development, not just to us, but to the actors.
Now, the question I have to ask myself is whether fandom picked up on something that was intentional or whether we were just seeing what we wanted to see. And furthermore, if we did pick up on unintentional cues, are the Teen Wolf writing team the kind of people who would give a same-sex couple with huge chemistry and potential the same chance as an opposite-sex couple?
Jeff himself has acknowledged that the writing staff know how incredible Stiles and Derek work together - they’re magic when they’re in the same scene together, and the production team knew it before it became this huge phenomenon.
If Jeff really did start out with an idea for a slowly developing romance there, which part of me desperately wants to believe, then arguing about fanservice becomes moot. It’s not baiting or fanservice if it’s character development leading up to consumation (and I mean that as demurely as possible, I’m not looking for porn, that’s what True Blood is for).
If they only picked up on this as a potential thing in season one, then anything we see right now is a direct result of their choices regarding this chemistry, but not the fandom explosion that came in June. You can read the pool scene as completely platonic, you can disregard the pause Derek makes when sending Erica to “befriend” Scott or Stiles, you can ignore all the odd glances, but Matt saying “oh I don’t know, Derek, I think you two make a pretty good pair” in direct reference to Stiles lying on top of him, life or death situation notwithstanding, is an acknowledgement of sorts. Yes, Matt really did mean sexually.
So whatever you may feel about that scene in particular or how it plays out further, it does mean the writers, while breaking down the show for the second season - and Jeff has the writing credit on this one, fyi - were thinking about these two in a sexual context. It could well be that this is the one instance of aggressive homophobia in a world where they’ve gone to great length to establish it doesn’t exist - it could well be that Matt was trying to use an intimate, vulnerable position to taunt them by calling them gay. Matt’s not exactly virtuous, so yes, that’s a possibility. But even so, neither Derek nor Stiles make any effort to deny and Matt skips to taunting Derek about his weakness almost immediately.
Jeff could be hedging his bets, of course. He could be giving us little hints here and there, some blatant fanservice, always with an implied “NO HOMO” attached. But of all the creators out there, of all the production teams out there, this one is seriously the least likely ever to pull crap like that. It’s one thing to do stuff that is ambiguously platonic, it’s another to put the sexual implications in the text, to put the characters in intimate and blatantly sexual positions and then never follow through. I don’t know about you, but I am so incredibly tired of playing gay chicken with my entertainment. I have grown so bitter and so starved for gay romance arcs that are more about the fun romance part than the gay part (so very tired of stories about being gay and how terrible it is rather than stories about monsters and space and swords with gay people). I want this for so many reasons, and yes, many of them are probably rooted in being gay myself.
Jeff Davis has stated time and again that he writes first and foremost to entertain and to write a story he himself would enjoy. Would he enjoy Derek and Stiles? I hope so. I hope he’s been toying with it for a while now. There is no proof either way, but there is also a startling lack of obstacles. No one on the production side seems to have a problem with it. Tyler Hoechlin seems to believe that, quite honestly, there is a real chance it could happen.
And this part is probably the most controversial, but here it is: I don’t want fanservice when it comes to romance. I find it cruel and disgusting. There’s a place for fanservice, and it is firmly in the realm of physicality. I don’t get anything out of the naked chest of Tyler Hoechlin but I can appreciate that this gives an extra incentive for the audience. There is no duplicity in it, no mockery of my identity. But when it comes to emotional arcs, I want them to be honest. No throwing Stiles on top of Derek unless they mean it.
I actually really think they mean it. I think for once this isn’t fandom reading too much into the empty space between the lines. I think this is more like Buffy and Spike than it is like, oh, every slash pairing ever. A long, hard way to go, but one that ends with some kind of satisfaction and not another reminder that people like me apparently aren’t worthy of being both in love and being heroes.
I may well be wrong. I may be wrong and my joy might turn sour the way it did before, when I dared to hope for better. But I’ve got a good feeling about this one. Because Jeff Davis is a gift.
So, this just popped up in my ask box.
Anonymous: Do you honestly think that Sterek have feelings for each other? (x)
Okay, anon. I’m sure that you didn’t want a novel, but, oops. I have a lot of feelings. So, here we go. The simplest answer to your question? No. They don’t have feelings for each other. But, oh my god, there is so much more to it than that.
Earlier this week I had an anon ask me whether or not I thought of Derek as an antihero. That question inspired me to make a longer post about antiheroes in general and how Derek fits into that role.
Because if there’s one thing I don’t do enough of, it’s talk about Derek Hale.
Dear Mr. Davis,
This is your fandom speaking. Your very large, very passionate, and very dedicated Sterek fandom, to be specific.
A week back, you acknowledged that you would be willing to consider the Sterek ship as a real possibility if you could be convinced to do so. And as such, we would like to take a little time to explain to you just why it is we want to see Derek and Stiles become a real and legitimate romantic relationship on your show, and hopefully, you will see things a little differently after reading this.
First of all, it has to be slow. Like, really slow. I think at one point Jeff Davis said his ideal show length is 5 seasons, so I wouldn’t want it to even START happening (physically, not emotionally) until like the middle/end of the 4th season. And then they wouldn’t actually ~*get together*~ until literally like the end of the 5th season.
Let me explain.